Max Rice missed two days of practice this week with an illness. But he didn’t miss much of anything Saturday night.
The redshirt senior scored a career-high 25 points to help the Boise State men’s basketball team defeat Texas A&M 86-71 in The Battleground 2k22 at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.
“He was sick, really, really sick,” Boise State coach Leon Rice told KBOI 670-AM in a postgame radio interview. “Then he goes out and plays like that.”
Rice finished 8-for-12 from the floor, including three 3-pointers, and 6-for-6 from the free-throw line to surpass his previous career best of 22 points against New Mexico on Dec. 23, 2020.
“We kind of got the lead early and just held on to it from there,” Max Rice said. “I think it shows how we’re kind of a veteran squad. We just held on to the lead, and I don’t think it was ever really in doubt.”
It was, indeed, a game the Broncos led from start to finish. They made eight of their first 10 shots — five of which were triples, plus a dunk from Naje Smith — to take a 21-16 lead with 11:59 left in the first half.
Boise State shot 52.3% from the floor and had assists on 20 of its 23 made field goals. Smith, sophomore Tyson Degenhart and fifth-year senior Marcus Shaver Jr. had four assists apiece to lead the Broncos.
Shaver added 20 points, and Chibuzo Ago notched his first career double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
“Credit to our guys, we really got after them this week,” Leon Rice said. “We haven’t been making each other better on offense. ... We were just missing a little bit offensively, and we had a big emphasis on assists and making each other better.
“We had a game plan for it, because Texas A&M, they rally to the ball, they turn you over and then they turn those into dunks on the other end. ... These guys took that message, got that message, and went out and executed it perfectly on both ends.”
Saturday’s victory was the 250th of Leon Rice’s career at Boise State. It also marked the Broncos’ fourth all-time against SEC schools, with all four of those wins coming during Rice’s tenure.
Boise State returns home to host Eastern Oregon on Tuesday at ExtraMile Arena. Tipoff is at 7 p.m., and the game will be streamed on the Mountain West Network, or listen on the radio on 670 AM.